Friday, August 31, 2018

U.S. Invasion of Venezuela (Again)

Senator Marco Rubio says he spoke with John Bolton about all the options in Venezuela. And it's all crazy, about threats and Russians.

"Yo creo que las Fuerzas Armadas de Estados Unidos solamente se utilizan en caso de amenaza a la seguridad nacional. Creo que hay un argumento, muy fuerte, que se puede hacer en este momento de que Venezuela y el régimen de (Nicolás) Maduro se ha convertido en una amenaza para la región e incluso para Estados Unidos", asegura Rubio en un extracto de una entrevista compartido en la cuenta oficial de Twitter de su equipo de prensa.
"Maduro es un gobierno que apoya a narcotraficantes, a guerrilleros y a grupos terroristas que están amenazando la estabilidad de Colombia. Está desestabilizando a varios países y, si se le ocurre a Maduro invitar a que (Vladimir) Putin mande aviones militares, por ejemplo, o que abran una base, esto va a acelerarse aún más todavía. Yo creo que las circunstancias han cambiado y lo dejo ahí", indicó.
It's not the first time Rubio has waded into this. This is so discouraging. I am not going to reiterate all the many reasons why U.S. military action would be a disaster both for Venezuelans and for U.S. security. Here are some of them.

We can only hope that this is mostly just fodder for conservative Venezuelan-Americans and Cuban-Americans. It's interesting that this was disseminated via a video on Rubio's Spanish language Twitter account but is not mentioned at all in his English one. Therefore this is currently being reported only in Spanish--I could not find mention of it in English, thus suggesting perhaps that he cares only about a narrow constituency.

On the other hand, Bolton likes invading countries.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

What To Do About Lula

Mac Margolis at Bloomberg challenges Jorge Castañeda's argument about why Lula should be allowed to run. I had written about his piece and how I tended to agree.

The arguments against it are not trivial. We need to attack corruption, we need not to excuse anyone, and we need even icons to be held accountable. But I think Margolis takes it too far in the other direction. For one thing, I don't see Lula as a "hero" and Castañeda clearly didn't either. This isn't about foreigners (for that is who Margolis is aimed at) letting their idols go free, or at least I don't think it is for most observers.

Further, the experiences of both Lula and Dilma Rousseff were highly politicized so we can certainly talk about the progress made by the Brazilian judiciary, but Lula's case has judges issuing contradictory decisions, just elevating the sense of political pressure. Legal experts had questions about the whole process against him.

I guess what nags at me is the certainty the two arguments have. Supporters say he is innocent and this is all collusion. His opponents say this is all fair. Neither sits well with me.

Ultimately, what is best for Brazilian democracy? If Lula is not allowed to run, you could call that a victory because it means corruption is attacked at even the highest level. But it will also mean that a good chunk of the Brazilian electorate will lose even more of their confidence in democracy, at a time when Brazil has the lowest satisfaction with democracy (13%) of any Latin American country.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Gold in Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro has been talking a lot about gold recently. He announced that part of his economic recovery plan was to get people to save in gold. Well, actually, not gold, but rather a piece of paper from the government saying it is worth gold. In other words, a gold standard. That may or may not be backed by gold at all. You have only Maduro's word for it. But that is, in fact, how he even proposes that businesses play a role in that recovery as an effort to get around ballooning hyperinflation.

This increasingly has a medieval flavor. There are already plenty of stories about the Venezuelan barter economy. The national currency has no value and the government's various efforts to find alternate currencies don't generate any confidence. In such circumstances, it makes sense that people might look to the basic metal that humans have put value into. The point of that, though, is to have the gold in your own possession, not as a promise from the government that has no intention of keeping its promises.


Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising

My daughter's fifth grade class is going to read Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising and since we had just bought it I decided to read it as well. It is the story of a girl from Aguascalientes in the 1930s who has to leave Mexico after her father is killed. Her mother takes her to California to meet up with family of their servants in the central valley town of Arvin, where they work in a company agricultural camp.

The story itself is simple (riches to rags) and the characters not entirely developed but I kept reminding myself that I wasn't the audience. I really like the idea of children in the U.S. having to think about the issues in the novel.

There is of course the question of discrimination, but also social class. Esperanza's family had money in Mexico and she took that for granted. She had to then see what it was like to be poor and how that felt. There is the issue of how workers are treated, why strikes happen, and the difficult questions they pose (should I strike when I need to feed my family? What happens when other workers accept less than me? What could a strike accomplish?). What is fair? Indeed, how does the "American Dream" work for some people versus others?

We'd all be better off if more children had to grapple with these questions, humanizing immigrants and even understanding a bit more of the history of Latin American migration to the United States.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Return to the Fatherland Plan

Earlier this year, the Venezuelan government announced the "Plan Vuelve a la Patria" (Return to the Fatherland Plan) whereby Venezuelans abroad who wanted to return but did not have the resources could come to the embassy and make their case.

Now around 100 Venezuelans in Peru accepted that offer and are flying home.

In interviews with The Associated Press, several of those returning said they had difficulty finding jobs and encountered hurtful xenophobia that made a recent offer by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to fly them back appealing — a sharp contrast to the plight of hundreds of thousands of compatriots now trying to leave.
This is just sad all around. People never want to just up and leave their country. They fled Venezuela because conditions had become too intolerable. And yet conditions are even worse abroad, where the reaction to Venezuelans has begun to sour. In other words, they aren't returning because the Venezuelan economy has improved. If anything, it's the opposite. So Venezuelans must choose between two kinds of misery.

This is just a drop in the bucket, a tiny handful of stories. Millions of Venezuelans have emigrated and although we don't know how many would return if they could, we do know that the government can't actually afford to fly them all.

Misery abroad or misery at home. That's your choice.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Should Lula Be Allowed to Run?

Jorge Castañeda makes the case in the New York Times that Lula should be allowed to run for president. Basically, the logic is that Brazilian democracy is already damaged and weak, and allowing him to run is the least bad option.

There is no good solution to this dilemma, especially in a country that has a terribly discredited political elite and is barely emerging from the worst economic recession in decades. Jair Bolsonaro, an extreme right-wing candidate, apparently advised, among others, by Steve Bannon, is running second to Lula in the polls. He appeals to the racist, homophobic and sexist streaks always present in Brazilian society and to a growing anti-establishment feeling. Clearly, Mr. Bolsonaro is a greater threat to democracy in Brazil than Mr. da Silva’s excesses, were they all to be confirmed. 
The charges brought against him are too flimsy, the purported crime so petty (until now), the sentence so brazenly disproportionate and the stakes so high that in Latin America today, democracy should trump — so to speak — the rule of law. In an ideal world, the two go together and certainly do not clash with each other. In Brazil, they do. I’ll go with democracy, warts and all.
I buy this argument. Lula is no more objectionable than anyone else. Bolsonaro will have a worse impact on democracy than Lula. Two Trumps in the hemisphere is too much.

At the same time, this is not good for the Worker's Party. Parties need to transcend individuals and no one seems ready to step in.

The judicial decision will be coming soon.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hideo Yokoyama's Sixty Four

Hideo Yokoyama's Sixty Four is one of the most unusual police procedural murder mystery books I have ever read. I was intrigued immediately, with the combination of the narrator Mikami's missing daughter and the seemingly cold case of a kidnapping and murder of a 7 year old girl.

My initial excitement slowed down with the slog of Japanese bureaucratic infighting and overly detailed discussion of how the Japanese police function. At page 200 I was almost ready to stop reading, especially as one mystery gets explained solely in terms of bureaucratic infighting. As a reader, I don't care about who is in charge of what in what division. But I wanted to know more about the other mysteries and was rewarded. The book requires some patience, including an avalanche of names, many of them quite similar in English (this is a translation so perhaps it is less confusing in the original). There is a brief list of main characters at the front, which is useful but far from comprehensive.

As you go, you will see how that back story matters to the bigger story about the kidnapping, which is far more interesting and driven by people rather than bureaucracies. I raced through the last 100 pages in particular but my interest had been re-engaged far before that. It's the beginning that requires real patience.

If, like me, you work somewhere in middle management within a large bureaucracy, you can identify with the hard work people do and how they want to do the right thing, how they deal with adversity, how they aspire to show their competence. The very end of the book reflects that as well.

But finally, and more importantly for me, there is real emotion in the book. As the father of two young daughters, I strongly identified with those who had lost theirs. So much of the plot made good sense to me as a result.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Race 8: Yiasou Greek Festival 5K

In the next installment of my year of running (see the first post here) I did the Yiasou Greek Festival 5K. It's labeled as "Charlotte's Flattest 5K) and although I don't know if that's true, it is definitely nice and flat, all around East Boulevard.

It was a beautiful morning, with the hint that fall is coming. This is part of the Run For Your Life Six Pack that my wife and I did last year and are doing again this year. One nice bonus is that NoDa Brewing Company is a sponsor and there is a tasty craft beer at the end of each race.

Next up: Hit the Brixx 10K


Friday, August 24, 2018

White House Statement on El Salvador and China, Annotated

Here is the official White House statement on the Salvadoran government's decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC, with my annotations.

On Tuesday, the Government of El Salvador announced it would discontinue its decades-long diplomatic relations with Taipei in favor of establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing. 

Just like we did, almost 40 years ago.

The leaders of El Salvador’s governing party have made this decision, which will have implications for decades to come, in a non-transparent fashion only months before they leave office. 

"Non-transparent" means "you did it on your own without asking our permission, which is really annoying."

This is a decision that affects not just El Salvador, but also the economic health and security of the entire Americas region. 

Because...well, we're not sure, but it's really bad.

The El Salvadoran government’s receptiveness to China’s apparent interference in the domestic politics of a Western Hemisphere country is of grave concern to the United States, and will result in a reevaluation of our relationship with El Salvador.

We figure all your decisions are based on some other country's interference. But it should be our interference only.

Countries seeking to establish or expand relations with China in order to attract state-directed investment that will stimulate short-term economic growth and infrastructure development may be disappointed over the long run.

We just prefer that disappointment be generated primarily from private interests and not the state.

Around the world, governments are waking up to the fact that China’s economic inducements facilitate economic dependency and domination, not partnership.

We know better than you and you're asleep at the wheel. Just let us drive.

The United States will continue to oppose China’s destabilization of the cross-Strait relationship and political interference in the Western Hemisphere.

Tariffs, baby!


Venezuela Oil Sanctions

The Trump administration is seriously considering sanctions targeting Venezuelan oil. The basic strategy is to make people's lives miserable enough that they rise up.

Some administration officials are worried that Venezuela’s problems are becoming the new normal. People inside, who want change, whether it’s the opposition, military or private sector need to take more aggressive steps, another administration official said. 
“We need the people to stand up,” the official said. “it’s not going to be an external force that creates change.”
I like that they're rejecting an "external force" but this is not nearly so simple. The U.S. has already sanctioned dozens of officials, making them less likely to overthrow Maduro. Further, deprivation alone doesn't automatically do it. Keep Zimbabwe in mind there, or even Cuba (where many thought regime change imminent when the Soviet Union disappeared).

I've now been posting about Venezuela sanctions for over four years and my thoughts haven't changed all that much. The most likely outcome is suffering and no regime change. Yes, there could be a straw that breaks the camel's back, but the chance of change is just not high.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

More Displacement in Colombia

A representative from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that forced displacement in Colombia this year have already surpassed all of 2018. Violence has actually worsened in several different parts of the country.

La situación es crítica en varias regiones del país, sobre todo en la costa Pacífica, en El Catatumbo y en el Bajo Cauca Antioqueño. En esas tres zonas del país el conflicto armado no cesó con el acuerdo de paz entre el Estado y las Farc. Actores armados con el Eln, el Epl, las disidencias de las Farc y grupos paramilitares hacen presencia en dichas regiones. En el 2018 se ha intensificado la guerra en esas zonas, por lo cual se ha incrementado el desplazamiento forzado. En departamentos como Meta, Arauca y Córdoba también se han presentado desplazamientos masivos.
Even worse, often they are going to the same places as Venezuelan refugees. That becomes one of now numerous incentives for the government--already less tolerant of Venezuelans than its predecessor--to cut the flow of those refugees.

It is always worth reminding everyone that Colombia right there with Syria when it comes to internall displaced people. The scope of the problem is enormous.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Mexico Wall Failures

The General Accounting Office released a report on the border wall prototypes that came out of the governments call for bids. The upshot is that they are failures and this will cost more money than U.S. Customs and Border Protection can afford.

DHS plans to spend billions of dollars developing and deploying new barriers along the southwest border. However, by proceeding without key information on cost, acquisition baselines, and the contributions of previous barrier and technology deployments, DHS faces an increased risk that the Border Wall System Program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned, or not fully perform as expected. Without assessing costs when prioritizing locations for future barriers, CBP does not have complete information to determine whether it is using its limited resources in the most cost-effective manner and does not have important cost information that would help it develop future budget requests. Without documenting plans to require CBP to follow the DHS acquisition process for the San Diego barrier segment, DHS may not establish cost, schedule, and performance goals by which it can measure the program’s progress. In addition, Border Patrol should continue to implement our prior recommendations to assess the contributions of existing barriers and technologies deployed along the southwest border and consider this information when making future border security investments.
The Department of Homeland Security is mostly stumbling around with this, though it's not easy to implement bad ideas.


Monday, August 20, 2018

The Venezuela Immigration Crisis

The Venezuelan emigration crisis is truly a regional one. See links below to recent news stories from every country in Latin America that is not already a major sending country, which Nicaragua is also gradually becoming.

There needs to be a regional summit dedicated solely to Venezuelan immigration and it needs to take place immediately. It does not matter what you think of the Venezuelan government, and indeed that should not be the focus of any such gathering. What matters is how you manage that flow, when economic precarity quickly fosters xenophobia in receiving countries. Without any coordination, we are likely to see countries start copying each other and cracking down, which just worsens human suffering.






Costa Rica







And last but not least, Venezuelans account for a lot of people in the United States who overstay visas.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Trajectory of Bolivian Politics

Miguel Centellas has a nice article in Chile's Revista de Ciencia Política analyzing Bolivian politics and economics in 2017. The upshot is that although there are question marks, some serious, things are going quite well. The biggest question mark is Evo Morales himself, particularly when the constitutional court abolished term limits, arguing that the constitution could not be an obstacle to the individual right to run for office.

It has become increasingly clear that Evo Morales has no intention of leaving the presidency and there are few (if any) meaningful constraints on his ability to stay in office indefinitely. It is comforting to realize that the last few years have seen a tremendous institutional strengthening, professionalization, and sophistication of the electoral court—and especially to know that the court’s leadership was willing to challenge the constitutional court’s decision to allow Morales to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019. The problem is that confidence even in elections, along with confidence in most other institutions, is eroding. Thus, the real challenge will come if and when voters reject Morales definitively. Adam Przeworski once famously quipped that “democracy is a system in which parties lose elections” (1991: 10). Perhaps the best evidence for a consolidation of Bolivia’s post-2003 democratic system will come when MAS loses a presidential election.
Concentration of power in one individual is not good for democracy, but this is up to Bolivians. There is every indication they did not favor allowing further re-election, but that is not the same as saying they would not vote for Evo if he were on the ballot. Clearly, though, his approval has waned.

With regard to Evo Morales grooming someone and stepping aside, I wonder whether the Ecuador and Colombia examples are giving him even more pause. In both cases, the protégé quickly went in a different (and for them undesirable) direction.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Cuba and the Media

As the President of the United States attacks the free press, it is interesting to see a parallel discussion going on in Cuba. Granma reports on the government's argument for the press' role in the national debate over constitutional reform. "Freedom of the press" obviously does not mean reporting on whatever you like without government intervention.

Instead, it means "building consensus." The way this is described is to collect opinions and explain how they will be evaluated, presumably to give people confidence that the final decision--which will be made by the Communist Party--is considered consensual. The point is "blocking the possibility that a private monopoly re-emerge in Cuba's media sector." The media's job, then, is to serve the state by getting buy-in. That is the "decisive role" it will play.

I am curious about the private monopoly reference and what it might have to do with the leadership change. It seems like calls for freedom of the press actually reflect some fear that it might actually happen.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Mattis Talks Latin American Politics

Two days ago I criticized Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for his comments on China's role in Latin America. I wrote that I hoped he had better messages during his trip. Fortunately, there have been some. In a talk at Brazil's War College, he touched on three things I very much agree with.

First, there needs to be a regional response to the Venezuelan crisis that is not led by the United States. The U.S. should provide humanitarian and other assistance, but this should be a Latin American initiative.

Second, Venezuela is "not a military matter." I am glad he reiterated that given Donald Trump's trap flapping about all options being on the table. Using the U.S. military, or any other military, should not be on the table.

Third, the military should not participate in election campaigns. This was in pointed reference to Jair Bolsonaro's running mate, retired General Antonio Hamilton Mourao. The "retired' part is a gray area for me. In my mind, the line is drawn when the individual is running as a retired general, as an identity. Mourao has just been chosen so I don't know how the campaign portrays him, but we do know he's been public about possible military intervention, which is dangerous.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Getting Gas in Venezuela

To combat smuggling, Nicolás Maduro announced a change in subsidized gasoline prices. If you have the "we intentionally want this to sound like Orwell" Fatherland ID, then you can get the low price for "about" two years (which really means whatever amount of time the government wants, though Maduro claims the problem will be solved within that time). If you do not have the ID, you pay market price, which is considerably higher.

This is intended to hurt the opposition, since many people do not want to get a creepy-sounding and personal information collecting Fatherland ID so avoid it, which now would mean paying more. How it affects smugglers is unclear, because they don't mind getting the ID if it means making a ton of money selling cheap gasoline in Colombia. I suppose the government will now know who is getting gas, but it won't know what they're doing with it once they get it.

The most likely outcome is that this will be a mess.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Jim Mattis on Latin America

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on China's role in Latin America.

“There’s more than one way to lose sovereignty in this world. It’s not just by bayonets. It can also be by countries that come in bearing gifts and large loans…piling massive debt on countries knowing they know will not be able to repay it,” Mattis said, in what appeared to be a jab at Chinese loans to countries like Venezuela and the Philippines.
My head is not big enough to give this the proper eye roll that it deserves. Let's set aside the obvious fact that the history of U.S.-Latin American relations is full of countless effort to undermine Latin American sovereignty through means other than military force.

But more importantly, this statement directly says that Latin American leaders are too stupid to know what amount of debt their countries should take on. The reporter mentions Venezuela but loans are going out all over the place. In other words, China is swindling the moronic Latin Americans, who will simply take on debt they cannot pay.

Hopefully the messages he carried to Latin American leaders during his trip the last few days were not this condescending.


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Assassination in Venezuela

A former police chief has claimed responsibility for the "drone thing that might have been an assassination attempt" against Nicolás Maduro.

Lucchese described the incident as part of a sustained, armed effort against Maduro. He declined to describe his precise role in the operation, in the broader resistance or identify others involved, citing the need to protect their identity. 
“We had an objective and in the moment we were not able to materialize it 100 percent,” Lucchese said in an interview in Bogota, where he is traveling because of activities with other opposition figures. “The armed struggle will continue.” 
Earlier this year, Lucchese parted ways with Popular Will, a prominent opposition party, saying he disagreed with its continued dialogue with Maduro’s administration.
Is this legit? We have no way of knowing. We do know that the opposition is split on tactics and certainly plenty of people see violence as the only means of political change. And we know that such moderate/violent splits are common--even the norm--in such contexts.

My main thought here is that this particular tactic is a bad idea. There was no doubt that Maduro would use any such attack as a pretext for repression, which he has done. Half-baked assassination plans (and this seems half-baked from what I've read) are far worse than doing nothing because you give the government cover to crack down even more on the opposition.

Lest you think I am calling for fully baked assassination plans, I think successful assassination would make things worse as well. My own preferred solution is one that sadly won't happen, which is coordinated Latin American pressure. The logic of assassination strikes me as Steve Bannon-ish, where your goal is to throw the country into such turmoil that you can build something new from the ashes. That's not how it'll work.


Trump Hurts Taiwan in Latin America

Latin American countries have been key allies of Taiwan for many years. But it occurs to me that the Trump administration's Latin America policy is especially hard on it. The president is heading to the region to shore up crumbling support.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen will head to Paraguay and Belize – two of the island’s remaining 18 formal allies – on Sunday, in her fifth state visit, described by her government as a “Journey of Joint Celebration”, but seen by analysts as cementing ties in the face of a growing diplomatic squeeze by Beijing.
Paraguay and Belize are not what you call diplomatic heavyweights but Taiwan is keenly interested in Latin America. China is using its financial might to lure countries to recognize it, and Taiwan has been doing what it can (including bribes) to counter that.

Trump's tariff policies give China a big boost in this regard because it reduces the need to woo so much. Latin American countries are consciously looking to China given the uncertainty of future trade relations with the United States. The logical next step is recognition.


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Venezuelan Immigrants in Colombia: Permanent or Temporary?

David Smilde has a rundown on recent Venezuela political news, including how Juan Manuel Santos gave Special Permission status to 442,000 Venezuelans, allowing them access to social services and the ability to work. Questions about it are so similar to the United States.

EP status provides beneficiaries with access to Colombian social services and allows them to legally work and freely circulate in the national territory. Activists applaud this measure but point out that it is less than optimal. First, the ambiguity of the census meant that many Venezuelan migrants were fearful and did not participate. Second, the PEP status is temporary and does not include any road to citizenship. Finally, as a presidential decree it can easily be undone by Santos’ successor. What is needed instead is actual legislation that regularizes the situation of Venezuelan migrants now and in the future.
Colombia needs a discussion right now of how it wants to handle Venezuelans. This is exactly like the Temporary Protected Status question in the U.S. The president alone decides, and what started as "temporary" was renewed so many times that people had deep roots here. The measure is generous but too much ambiguity will cause pain in the future. Does it end with the end of the current government? With some measurable improvement in Venezuela? Never?

With regard to making it more permanent with a law, it's hard to imagine the current congressional composition passing something very liberal, but clearly Santos was in no position to get something passed before the election. I have not seen whether Iván Duque has indicated his precise position on migrants within Colombia, though he has said he wants to tighten border security.

In general, this is a time of high uncertainty. Venezuela cannot support its own citizens, Colombia struggles to support its own challenges plus migrants, the international community is slow to respond, and the political landscape in Colombia has shifted.


Tuesday, August 07, 2018

US-Colombian Relations Under Trump and Duque

The Washington Post has an article about how Iván Duque will automatically become the closest U.S. ally in Latin America.

Duque, a conservative, hopes to turn Trump’s concerns about drugs and safe borders into a stronger partnership with Washington while promising to revisit elements of a historic peace agreement with rebels struck in August 2016 with the vigorous support of the Obama administration. 
“When he is sworn in, Duque will overnight become the most pro-American head of state in Latin America,” said a senior U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about U.S. diplomatic priorities.
A big question is how much Duque stays hardline after being sworn in. He is of course an Alvaro Uribe disciple and even is seen as a potential puppet (to the point that he actually had to say he wasn't a puppet). There are plenty valid of reasons to envision a major shift away from the Santos administration.

At the same time, this isn't the 1990s. Simply going back to aerial fumigation and old style punitive policies don't have the same national or regional support they did back then. Former presidents are calling for decriminalization. There is already precedent for a hardliner president to advocate for decriminalization. There is broader consensus that the U.S. drug war is largely a failure. And there is no more civil war.

Nonetheless, I would expect it to be relatively easy for Duque to the closest U.S. ally, in large part because the U.S. has no close allies at all at the moment. But will he bend to reach U.S.-determined goals of coca cultivation? Will he just redo Uribe's policies in a totally different environment?

Nikki Haley, who is attending the inauguration on Trump's behalf, published a carefully worded op-ed that did include a push for more eradication:

Working with Colombian police and military forces, the United States helped achieve record cocaine seizures in 2017, while Colombian forces eradicated over 125,000 acres of coca last year. But there is much more to do to achieve the goal set between our two countries to reduce by half coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia.
There is no mention of goals to reduce U.S. cocaine consumption, but that's a different story.


Saturday, August 04, 2018

Race 7: Balboa Park 8 Miler

The latest in my running series (see the first post here) I ran the Balboa Park 8 Miler in San Diego. It is a scenic route that includes some trails. It suddenly got tough just before mile 5, where you drop down a very steep trail into a canyon, then run a while alongside CA State Route 163 North until you climb (for me, at a slow pace) back up.

Since Balboa Park is so close to the airport, there were times I felt the planes coming right over me. Overall, a cool locale.

One small pet peeve. In general I am not a fan of an emcee saying "good morning" (or hello, or whatever) then saying the response was not loud enough, which then means they say it again louder, demanding a louder response. When the time is 6:15 am (the race started at 7 am) this is even worse.


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